What is malversation?

Malversation may be committed by appropriating public funds or property; by taking or misappropriating the same; by consenting, or through abandonment or negligence, by permitting any other person to take such public funds or property; or by being otherwise guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property.[1]

The elements common to all acts of malversation under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, are the following: 
(a) that the offender be a public officer
(b) that he had custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of his office; 
(c) that those funds or property were public funds or property for which he was accountable; and 
(d) that he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take them.
Malversation is committed either intentionally or by negligence. The dolo or the culpa present in the offense is only a modality in the perpetration of the felony. Even if the mode charged differs from the mode proved, the same offense of malversation is involved and conviction thereof is proper. All that is necessary for conviction is sufficient proof that the accountable officer had received public funds, that he did not have them in his possession when demand therefor was made, and that he could not satisfactorily explain his failure to do so. Direct evidence of personal misappropriation by the accused is hardly necessary as long as the accused cannot explain satisfactorily the shortage in his accounts.[2]

In People v. Consigna, et al.,[3] the Supreme Court first ruled that an accused charged with wilful malversation can be validly convicted of malversation through negligence where the evidence sustains the latter mode of perpetrating the offense.

Similarly, in People v. Ochoa,[4] the Supreme Court stated that [e]ven when the Information charges wilful malversation, conviction for malversation through negligence may still be adjudged if the evidence ultimately proves that mode of commission of the offense.

In Tubola, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan,[5] the High Court affirmed the accused's conviction of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, and reasoned out as follows:

Besides, even on the putative assumption that the evidence against petitioner yielded a case of malversation by negligence but the information was for intentional malversation, under the circumstances of this case his conviction under the first mode of misappropriation would still be in order. Malversation is committed either intentionally or by negligence. The dolo or the culpa present in the offense is only a modality in the perpetration of the felony. Even if the mode charged differs from the mode proved, the same offense of malversation is involved and conviction thereof is proper. A possible exception would be when the mode of commission alleged in the particulars of the indictment is so far removed from the ultimate categorization of the crime that it may be said due process was denied by deluding the accused into an erroneous comprehension of the charge against him. That no such prejudice was occasioned on petitioner nor was he beleaguered in his defense is apparent from the records of this case. (Underscoring and emphasis in the original.)

[1] Pondevida v. Sandiganabayan, 504 Phil. 489, 507 (2005).

[2] Cantos v. People, G.R. No. 184908, July 3, 2013. 

[3] 122 Phil. 293, 296 (1965).

[4] 511 Phil. 682 (2005).

[5] G.R. No. 154042, April 11, 2011, 647 SCRA 446, 459 citing Cabello v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 93885, May 14, 1991.

Popular Posts